It’s unsurprising to expect a new generation of products showing up its predecessors, but following Apple’s unveiling of the new iPad Pro, we can’t help but feel particularly sorry for last year’s iPad Air 2.
The iPad Pro may be a little more unwieldy than the smaller Air 2, with its expansive 12.9-inch Retina Display and a body to accommodate the extra screen space, but a larger screen directly translates to a more immersive experience.
Add to that the fact that the screen’s greater resolution means there’s no drop in pixel density (still 264ppi), alongside smarter refresh rates for smoother animations and better power efficiency, and you can already see the Pro’s screen was built to put on a better show.
Apple also made a big deal about the audio experience on offer from the Pro too. A facet of hardware the company frequently under-delivers on, the Pro boasts four speakers (one in each corner) capable of delivering stereo sound that orients itself to match whether you’re holding the device in landscape or portrait and the company claims it’s around three times louder than the Air 2’s single speaker.
There’s a new A9X, 64-bit chipset inside the Pro as well and versus the Air 2 we’ve been promised over twice the graphical performance, which paired to Apple’s Metal asset library should mean games look better and run even faster and smoother.
Speaking of that new processor, iOS 9 promised us true app multitasking and whilst the A8X in the Air 2 is the baseline for the feature, the greater CPU performance the Pro’s silicon affords means the feature will undoubtedly feel more satisfying and fluid to use by comparison.
Demos on stage at Apple’s latest keynote showcased representatives from the likes of Adobe and Microsoft deftly jumping between a handful of high intensity apps (including some iPad Pro exclusives) with no apparent slow down or stutter.
Those looking for a lightweight laptop replacement might now place the iPad Pro higher up in the rankings above the latest MacBook and the Air 2; especially after Apple produced the Smart Keyboard on stage – an iPad Pro exclusive keyboard/case combo that uses the same domed, short-travel QWERTY key design as the company’s base-level laptop.
If the detachable keyboard wasn’t enough to draw comparisons with Microsoft’s Surface computers, the Apple Pencil certainly felt familiar.
Apple’s new connected stylus works in conjunction with the iPad Pro’s advanced touchscreen technology – doubling the touch accuracy, gauging the amount of force and the angle it’s being held at when in use. It can even be charged by plugging directly into the Lightning connector at the iPad Pro’s base, which is a neat trick.
In truth it represents the low-latency stylus experience the iPad has always deserved, but until now the technology, even from top third parties like Wacom and FiftyThree, has fallen short of the mark, even with the powerful hardware support available from the iPad Air 2.
The iPad Pro launches in November.